Ministry launches new Brackenridge probe

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2013
De Jonge
CARPET BURNS: Grazes found on the back of Stephen de Jonge's teenage daughter.

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Concerns over the care of an intellectually disabled teenager, who allegedly suffered carpet burn grazes at Brackenridge Estate, has sparked the facility's second government investigation since September.

Stephen de Jonge lodged a formal complaint with Brackenridge about his 15-year-old daughter's carpet burn injuries on November 5 - the day after the Ministry of Health was expected to release its findings into an extraordinary audit of the Christchurch disability facility.

Brackenridge did not notify the ministry of de Jonge's complaint until Fairfax Media contacted the facility to ask about the teenager's quality of care.

The ministry is now conducting its own investigation into the incident and has ordered Brackenridge to inform it of all new complaints lodged against the facility.

De Jonge contacted Fairfax Media raising concerns about his daughter's injuries after he found Brackenridge's complaints process "totally unacceptable".

Brackenridge confirmed the Government audit had also picked up that its complaints process "needs addressing".

De Jonge sent a formal complaint, including photographic evidence of his daughter's grazes, to the facility's complaints email address, but was not aware this email address had been changed about six months earlier.

He did not receive an automatic reply directing him to the correct address or saying his email could not be delivered, so he was unaware his complaint had not been received.

An internal investigation was initiated by Brackenridge only after de Jonge complained again in a family meeting. His original email complaint was not found until 15 days after it had been sent, he said.

Brackenridge general manager Peter Campbell said the facility notified families about the change in email address in two family newsletters and via email.

The automated response was only able to be active for three months after the changeover in email addresses.

"It is our understanding that we are unable to retrieve any emails sent to the old addresses after that three-month period," Campbell said.

De Jonge was also frustrated at the lack of communication after complaining, the fact that it took Brackenridge more than two weeks to ask for a copy of the medical certificate that states his daughter's injuries were consistent with carpet burn and that the facility did not notify the ministry until the media got involved.

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"My main issue with Brackenridge is the lack of communication and that I had to stumble my way through the complaints procedure. I was quite pissed about that and I told them I didn't find it acceptable," he said.

De Jonge's daughter has the mental ability of a pre-schooler and spends three nights a week in respite care at Brackenridge.

The grazes on her back were found by her teacher when Brackenridge carers dropped her to school after her three-day respite at the facility.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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